A new initiative from the Pervasive Media Studio (currenly only with a Media Sandbox website) is the iglab.
I was a bit late, but the games were in full flow when I arrived. Simon Johnson was organising the evening and getting people to ‘swarm develop’ the games played. The focus was on ‘interestingness‘ than cunning technology and after each mini-play the assembled players were asked for ideas on how to improve the game they’d just played.
Only a couple of the Sandbox commissioned teams were present, Simon himself obviously, and the guys from ThoughtPie (flush from their national press coverage in the Guardian), but there were around 30 people which made for a pleasant buzz and enough people to have some players, some observers and lots of conversation around the edges on how to improve the games. Plus the wii was out, so plenty of stimulation for how to design, build and commercialise interesting games.
Bit of moblogging, bit of beer, a great mix of game developers, games research academics, and enthusiastic game players made for a good evening out and a healthly start to iglab.
We put a submission in but were unsuccessful so well done to everyone.
There’s an interesting mix of ideas. Personally I can’t wait to see what HMC and Aardman come up with on Ani-mates. Harmonize sounds like a hyped-up Treasure Hunt or Challenge Annika and I’m sure that Power-to-the-People has been done several times before including the chap that lets you control his Christmas lights in aid of Celiac, amongst others. I like the idea of Happy Packages, so long as it doesn’t degenerate into Facebook poking everywhere, all the time; but then maybe that’s what makes most people most happy most of the time…
I’m not quite sure what Swarm and Happy Town are out to achieve but I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Full list on the Media Sandbox site.
More news to follow, plus each project has it’s own project blog / journal to watch.
I spent yesterday at the launch of the Sandbox, the upside there were lots of people in Waterside 3, possibly drawn by the £9k commissioning offer (but then only 24 admitted to having an idea to pitch and only 14 actually did). Ed Mitchell facilitated and did an excellent, if noisy job with various horns, cymbals and German songs about fish.
Th first activity was about networking and knowledge sharing. We’d each filled out a mini-profile on what we had to offer and what we were looking for. Copies of everyone’s profile were posted on the walls of Waterside 2 and you had to swap your profile with someone you didn’t know, and then take their profile and find them two people from those on the wall to network with. Quite sensibly no-one admitted to having or knowing anything about funding (over 50% on a rough eyeball count listed that as a ‘need’). Profiles returned to their rightful owners we set off to find those identified targets!
In the end I only found one person on the list of likely candidates, but in wandering around I got chatting to several folks that were either very close or had interesting ideas of their own.
There followed a wide discussion around what pervasive media was, with tables coming up with post-in notes of ideas. Dan Dixon & Pete Ferne then made a first cut aggregation of those ideas.
We were then invited to come forward if we wanted to pitch, or adjourn for coffee otherwise. I decided to take the plunge. 20min later I had an A2 sheet with a (very) badly draw storyboard (sorry Rich).
We had 90sec to describe the concept and Ed was being ruthless with the clock. There were a few game-type proposals (including the one I presented), a couple of location / mapping type ideas, a couple of event ideas and a couple that didn’t seem to be that related to media or pervasiveness at all.
Then followed a brutal ranking process where everyone in the room got to allocate votes to the ideas (each person had 4 blocks of 4, 3, 2 and 1 vote – they could be allocated in a whole block of ten or split between up to four ideas). My idea didn’t make it through the vote but since this wasn’t the commissioning process (yet) I wasn’t too disheartened. There followed a period where each idea was worked on to ‘improve’ it, before a final pitch to a volunteer panel. Watching the panel process I was doubly glad not have made it through as they were pretty brutal but it still wasn’t part of the commissioning.
The actual commissioning criteria were then worked on another group activity. This worked less well because each of the four groups had to come up with 5 criteria. These were keywords on post-it notes. Without a very clear understanding of the purpose of the Pervasive Media Sandbox, it was impossible to come up with a coherent set of criteria. There wasn’t unanimity over any of the criteria. These have now been consolidated into the ‘official’ criteria so we’ll have to see if the idea I was proposing still fits.
Been a hectic couple of days, and it’s going to get busier. I found out on Sunday that someone dropped out of tomorrow’s launch of the Media Sandbox here in Bristol and I was let in.
There are quite a few initiatives flying around the field of pervasive media in Bristol. This funded sandbox to build new ideas, there’s the Mscapers two day festival/conference next Mon/Tues, murmurings about a collaborative studio supporting business, research and community (more on this later), and new companies starting up (more also later).
Will definitely be posting on the Sandbox event, hopefully posting on the development of a very cool new game, and this is a hot space to watch at the moment in Bristol.
[Update: Ok, seems this has been going on for a while. Though the twitter post below did relate to the thing I was searching for it didn’t actually give me a link to the conference. The reason I was searching was that Tom Morris had just twittered that they’d arrived in Bristol for the SWIG conference at HP Labs and I’ve got Bristol as a track term. Move along now, nothing to see.]
Sorry if this is old news to some but it’s the first time for me.